Human Minds and Animal Stories
How Narratives Make Us Care About Other Species
The power of stories to raise our concern for animals has been postulated throughout history by countless scholars, activists, and writers, including such greats as Thomas Hardy and Leo Tolstoy. This is the first book to investigate that power and explain the psychological and cultural mechanisms behind it. It does so by presenting the results of an experimental project that involved thousands of participants, texts representing various genres and national literatures, and the cooperation of an internationally-acclaimed bestselling author. Combining psychological research with insights from animal studies, ecocriticism and other fields in the environmental humanities, the book not only provides evidence that animal stories can make us care for other species, but also shows that their effects are more complex and fascinating than we have ever thought. In this way, the book makes a groundbreaking contribution to the study of relations between literature and the nonhuman world as well as to the study of how literature changes our minds and society.
"As witnessed by novels like Black Beauty and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a good story can move public opinion on contentious social issues. In Human Minds and Animal Stories a team of specialists in psychology, biology, and literature tells how they discovered the power of narratives to shift our views about the treatment of other species. Beautifully written and based on dozens of experiments with thousands of subjects, this book will appeal to animal advocates, researchers, and general readers looking for a compelling real-life detective story." - Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat : Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Texts, Statistics, and Deception: On Our Investigative Method
Chapter 2 A Monkey, a Book, and Facebook, or How to Catch a Story in the Act
Chapter 3 Does It Matter If It Is True? On Slaughterhouses, Fiction, and Non-Fiction
Chapter 4 Does It Matter How It Is Told? On Species, Stylistics, and Voices
Chapter 5 Does It Matter Who It Is About? On Chimpanzees, Lizards, and Other Main Characters
Chapter 6 How Does It Work? From Readerly Pleasure to Animal Cruelty
Chapter 7 How Long Will It Work? A Short Chapter on Attitudinal Impact Over Time
Conclusions, Speculations, and Prospects
Wojciech Malecki is assistant professor at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He specializes in literary theory, ecocriticism, animal studies, American pragmatism, aesthetics, and the empirical study of literature. He is the author and editor of five books and of numerous articles published in journals such as The Oxford Literary Review, Poetics, Angelaki, and PLoS One.
Piotr Sorokowski is associate professor and head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He has published more than seventy research articles related to evolutionary, cultural, and social psychology, including in Nature, Evolution and Human Behavior, and Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. His work has been discussed by the media all over the world, including BBC, CNN, Time, and The New Yorker.
Boguslaw Pawlowski is head of the Department of Human Biology at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He deals with human behavior and preferences in relationship to body morphology and physiology. He has published more than eighty papers in top journals in his field (e.g. in Nature, PNAS, Proc. Roy. Soc. B., Current Anthropology) and dozens of book chapters. He is the President of the Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies (PTNCE).
Marcin Cienski is professor of literary history and comparative literature and the Dean of the Faculty of Philology at the University of Wroclaw. His research interests include eighteenth-century and contemporary literature. He has authored and edited more than 150 publications, including The Landscapes of the Enlightened; Polish Enlightenment Literature and the European Tradition; and Polish Humanism and Communities.
"frames the issues of reader empathy, creating a template for accumulating and coding the data of how people come to care about something, and how reading may modify their behavior"
--Randy Malamud, Department of English, Georgia State University, USA, ANTHROZOÖS, 2021
"Apart from offering a gripping real-life detective narrative, the publication presents an introduction to novel research regarding the experimental study of literature…[for] anyone looking for inspiration and hard scientific evidence to create narratives that can make a difference in the world."
--Luiza Dubicka, Diggit magazine, 2020
"Human Minds and Animal Stories is an outstanding book ... extremely well researched, the ideas are clearly presented, and the individual chapters also serve as a perfect introduction to the field of empirical literary studies."
-- Jan Alber, Scientific Study of Literature (Vol. 11:1 (2021), pp. 142–146.